Downgrading multiple Vista machines with one XP Professional license
August 27, 2008 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Can I "downgrade" multiple computers with Vista pre-installed using only one license of XP Professional?

I need to purchase several computers, and it's getting more difficult where I am to find suitable hardware that comes with the Windows XP Pro downgrade pre-configured.

It's my understanding that, if Vista Business or Ultimate is pre-configured, I can "downgrade" to XP Professional if I have a copy of XP Pro (and am comfortable doing the downgrade myself, which I am). What I'm wondering is whether I need to own multiple licences of both Vista and XP, or if only one copy of XP is OK.

One would hope that one wouldn't need to purchase Vista AND XP for each machine, but I know this is not an area where reason rules. There's lots of reference online to doing the downgrade, but I'm having trouble finding specific mention of downgrading multiple machines with only one XP Pro license.

Your thoughts?
posted by danwalker to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Unless you're willing to crack the activation, or have some kind of site license, your CD key probably won't work if you attempt to activate it on several computers. It might, but it might not. You may well need a copy of both operating systems for each computer. Microsoft doesn't really have any incentive to help you out here, so they're pretty much okay with this being a real bitch.
posted by valkyryn at 7:18 AM on August 27, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah. I understand that I have to call in to do this particular activation, and would like to avoid having bought a half-dozen machines, only to find out that my one XP Pro license will cover only one of them.

Does anyone have any real-world experience to share?
posted by danwalker at 7:19 AM on August 27, 2008

If your license does indeed come with a downgrade license then you'll need an XP installer disc from the OEM that accepts that key. I believe the keys used for this are not compatible with the old media. Contact your OEM. MS wont let you use a random XP license and certainly not more than once.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:22 AM on August 27, 2008

Also according to this you can use the vista product key with old media, but you must call MS to activation. You will not be using your XP license key for any of this.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:36 AM on August 27, 2008

Response by poster: Right - I'm wondering whether the XP license even comes into play. If it doesn't, then it's OK that I have only one copy... I think. Is this correct?
posted by danwalker at 7:45 AM on August 27, 2008

I dont think the XP license key matters at all. I only work with the volume side of things and dont play with the retail packages, but it looks like you can use your old XP disc or request a new XP OEM disc. The process should just use your vista key.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:51 AM on August 27, 2008

You need to own an XP license for each computer you want to use it on. If you have several computers, you will need several licenses.
posted by Jairus at 8:02 AM on August 27, 2008

Response by poster: Alright. Clearly we have conflicting info here - so I took the plunge and called Microsoft's activation centre (the Canadian toll-free from this list, for the record) and asked them directly.

The answer is that only one XP Professional license is required in order to activate any number of Vista downgrades. I'm sure there must be some ceiling you can reach at which point they'd stop you, but in my example, the Microsoft representative told me that one XP is good for the five Vista machines I'm going to acquire, and all they'd ask for when I call in is the Vista serial number.
posted by danwalker at 11:34 AM on August 27, 2008

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